International Youth Day – Mental Health Matters!

Editorial –  We support approaches that focus on social and humane development that predispose to good physical and mental health

On august 12, the international community celebrates the International Youth Day dedicated to youth and mental health, under the motto "Mental Health Matters".

This event is an opportunity to raise awareness about the difficulties facing young men and women on a daily basis, including from stigma and discrimination, and to support them so that they can fully achieve their aspirations, says Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova.

It is now widely recognized that mental health problems are one of the realities that youth centers educators and counselors must face in assisting troubled youth. Moreover, these problems are even more acute among those facing an addiction problem. The experience acquired by the Dianova Network points out that nearly one people in two entering an addiction treatment program also suffers from a more or less severe mental health disorder. The necessity to adapt their therapeutic approaches to a youth population increasingly suffering from concomitant mental illness and addiction problems is accordingly one of the major clinical challenges that the Dianova network member organizations have to face.

Mental health is not a fixed state that depends solely on the each individual's characteristics. It is rather a fluctuating state which depends on whether or not the person lives in an environment that is conducive to their well being and personal development. Mental health is as much related to social, family and personal factors as on biological and individual factors. It may be influenced by multiple, interdependent conditions, including individuals' social status and incomes, their social and family support network, their academic performance, family climate, etc. All these conditions interact and  alter the individual's ability to cope with everyday problems.

The Dianova Network calls for a comprehensive, biopsychosocial approach which allows for addressing this issue globally. In all our interventions as well as in the stands we are taking and the advocacy work we develop within national and international organizations, we support approaches that focus on social and humane development. Safer living conditions, accessible and adequate healthcare services, decent housing conditions and decent work opportunities are  crucial factors that predispose to good physical and mental health.

In the society as a whole, the needs are immense, in terms of knowledge and awareness on the key issues at stake in this domain. It is in this sense that today's International Youth Day can help raise awareness and achieve a better understanding of the needs of young people and help them overcome the challenges they face.

As Irina Bokova points out: "The mental health of young women and men is important for the health of society as a whole. They are a wellspring of ideas for innovation and leaders for positive change. We need to support them in every way in order to build with them inclusive, just — and healthy — societies."

Montse Rafel, Director General